Connect with us

News

Gould’s FG on final play gives 49ers 13-10 upset of Packers

Published

on

Gould’s FG on final play gives 49ers 13-10 upset of Packers

By STEVE MEGARGEE

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Robbie Gould lived up to his name.

On a field littered with snow flurries, Gould made a 45-yard field goal Saturday night as time expired that knocked off the top-seeded Packers 13-10 and possibly ended Aaron Rodgers’ tenure in Green Bay.

Gould has made all 20 of his career playoff field-goal attempts. His latest helped the 49ers complete an improbable comeback by scoring 10 unanswered points in the last five minutes.

“I always trust Robbie. He’s as good as gold, man,” Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “He always is.”

The 49ers (12-7) continued their postseason hex on Rodgers and advanced to an NFC championship game matchup Jan. 30 at either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4) or Los Angeles Rams (13-5). Those teams play Sunday in Tampa.

This marks the 17th conference championship appearance for the 49ers, the most by any team since conferences were formed in the 1970 merger. The 49ers had been tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

San Francisco’s win, coupled with the Cincinnati Bengals’ 19-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans earlier in the day, marked the first time both No. 1 seeds lost in the divisional round in the same season since 2010. Green Bay won at Atlanta and the New York Jets won at New England that season.

“It’s dangerous, man. When a team gets hot, it’s dangerous,” Garoppolo added. “So we’ve just got to keep this thing going, focus on next week now, and keep this thing rolling.”

Rodgers went 20 of 29 for 225 yards and dropped to 0-4 in career playoff starts against the 49ers. He’s the first quarterback in NFL history to lose four playoff starts to a single opponent.

He now enters an uncertain offseason. After skipping the Packers’ mandatory minicamp in a standoff with management, Rodgers said he was uncertain whether this would be his last year in Green Bay. Rodgers said last month he was keeping all options open.

Rodgers didn’t want to speculate on his future Saturday night, though he said he didn’t want to be part of a rebuild if he keeps playing.

“I don’t think it’s fair to anybody or myself to really go down those paths at this point,” Rodgers said. “It’s disappointing, sad and fresh. I’ll have conversations in the next week or so and start to contemplate after that.”

The Packers (13-5) earned the NFC’s top seed for a second straight season and were the league’s only unbeaten team at home, but again failed to reach the big game. They haven’t made it to the Super Bowl since their 2010 championship season.

“I just didn’t envision it like this,” said Green Bay’s Aaron Jones, who had nine catches for 129 yards and 12 carries for 41 yards.

San Francisco tied the game with 4:41 left thanks to a breakdown by Green Bay’s special teams, the Packers’ biggest weakness all season.

Jordan Willis’ outstretched left hand blocked a punt by Corey Bojorquez, who was kicking from the front of his end zone. Talanoa Hufanga picked up the ball at the 6-yard line and ran it in to make it 10-10.

After the Packers went three-and-out, the 49ers got the ball back at their 29 with 3:20 left and drove into field-goal range. Deebo Samuel delivered a 9-yard run on third-and-7 from the Green Bay 38, and the 49ers ran down the clock to set up Gould.

A.J. Dillon’s 6-yard touchdown run capped a 69-yard drive on the game’s opening possession that put the Packers ahead 7-0. Green Bay’s offense didn’t do much of anything after that.

Green Bay’s special teams fared even worse.

Well before that blocked punt, San Francisco’s Jimmie Ward blocked a 39-yard field-goal attempt from Mason Crosby on the final play of the first half, preventing the Packers from extending their lead to 10-0.

The Packers also allowed Samuel to return the second-half kickoff 45 yards, setting up the 49ers’ first field goal. Green Bay also appeared to have only 10 men on the field when Gould made his winning kick.

“We thought our special teams had an advantage in this game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We thought they had an opportunity to possibly win us the game. And to be able to say that and to actually come to fruition … was huge for those guys and huge for our team.”

San Francisco won by overcoming a brutal start from its offense. The 49ers had minus-10 yards in their first four series, three of which included third-down sacks. It was the first time the 49ers had opened a game with four straight three-and-outs since a 27-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 27, 2009.

The 49ers didn’t get a single first down or pass completion until Garoppolo connected with George Kittle on a 15-yard gain with less than 6 ½ minutes left in the second quarter. Garoppolo was just 11 of 190 for 131 yards with an interception, but the 49ers still managed to win.

“It took everything,” Garoppolo said. “We knew it was going to. I mean, it was just offense, defense, special teams – everybody stepping up and doing their part. Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

THE TUNDRA

The temperature at kickoff was 14 degrees with a wind chill of zero, making it the fifth-coldest playoff game in Lambeau Field history. The second half was played amid snow flurries.

INJURIES

The Packers were without OT David Bakhtiari, a 2020 All-Pro selection. Bakhtiari played 27 snaps in the Packers’ regular-season finale, which marked his first game since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament on Dec. 31, 2020.

49ers running back Jeff Wilson left with an ankle injury after the opening kickoff. Packers safety Darnell Savage (back) and running back A.J. Dillon (chest) left in the third quarter.

NEXT UP

The 49ers will be at either Tampa or the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC championship game on Jan. 30.

The Packers’ season is over. Will Rodgers be back with the Pack?

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

News

With Adley Rutschman in Baltimore and ‘blue skies ahead,’ eyes turn to Grayson Rodriguez, next wave of Orioles’ prospects

Published

on

With Adley Rutschman in Baltimore and ‘blue skies ahead,’ eyes turn to Grayson Rodriguez, next wave of Orioles’ prospects

A day after top prospect Adley Rutschman made his Orioles debut, Executive Vice President and general manager Mike Elias offered a reminder that more are coming as the organization continues to trend upward in the next stage of its rebuild.

“We’ve got blue skies ahead of us,” Elias said Sunday morning in the Orioles’ dugout at Camden Yards. “We’ve got a No. 1 farm system. We’ve got a young, talented major league team. We have payroll flexibility. We’re past the pandemic, and there’s gonna be more and more people coming into the ballpark. We’re gonna be renovating this place. There’s a lot to look forward to.”

Perhaps chief among those is the arrival of more prospects around Rutschman. The Orioles could’ve possibly had back-to-back debut days at Oriole Park, but No. 2 prospect Grayson Rodriguez instead started for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday. He threw 87 pitches during his prior start — the same eighth-ranked prospect Kyle Bradish reached in his last Triple-A outing before being promoted — but Elias was clear the Orioles feel there remain steps to be taken for the game’s top pitching prospect.

Rodriguez, 22, posted a 2.65 ERA with a 38.5% strikeout rate in his first eight Triple-A starts, pitching beyond the fifth inning three times after doing so only once in 2021. The Orioles want to be able to let him loose in the majors, Elias said, while also building up his innings this year so that he can pitch without restrictions in 2023.

“When he comes up here, we want him to be able to go and pitch and help the team and not handcuff the team, and we’ve got to be super careful with the workload for this kid just because of who he is,” Elias said. “He’s getting close to a full build-up. We just want to see him keep going on the track that I feel like he’s been on. The last two or three outings have been markedly better in terms of stuff, location, delivery. I think his last outing was kind of vintage Grayson, which was exciting. And I’m watching each one of his starts very carefully, and I know we are as an organization.

“Grayson is one of the most important pitchers in baseball, and we want to make sure that we’re handling that responsibly.”

He did not offer specifics on what they feel Rodriguez must do to reach the majors, which has been standard. Only after Rutschman reached the majors did Elias say that the three straight games he caught for Norfolk from Tuesday to Thursday were what showed the organization he was ready after missing time with a strained strained tricep.

The timing allowed Rutschman to play his first game at home, where a raucous but modest crowd cheered his every move. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde compared the atmosphere to what he saw as a coach with the Chicago Cubs’ fan base when they first promoted eventual Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Kris Bryant.

“Once that box was checked, we figured it was a live ball,” Elias said. “And then looking at the schedule, Yankee Stadium didn’t seem like a great option for a debut. And it just seemed he was ready, and this weekend made the most sense. And now, he will get the experience of going to play in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, which is cool for him because that’s life in the [American League] East and then come back for a nice homestand around Memorial Day, so I think the timing worked out as well as it could have given that we were constrained by his injury.”

The Orioles are also managing an injury comeback with No. 3 prospect DL Hall, a left-hander who is routinely showing upper-90s velocity in his return from a stress fracture in his pitching elbow. In three starts since joining Norfolk, Hall, 23, has a 6.52 ERA but has struck out more than 30% of the batters he’s faced.

“He’s got stuff that I think Triple-A is going to be speaking to him about, meaning the hitters there, and you saw the line last time, some walks,” Elias said. “His stuff is unbelievable. He’s been healthy. He looks great. He’s throwing harder than ever, but he’s doing it with ease and efficiency.

“He looks excellent. I think that the mixture of good and bad that we’ve seen in his performance so far in Norfolk is exactly what I would have expected, and I think that he’s ahead of sort of schedule and expectations in terms of where he came into the year, and this is all good stuff, healthy stuff that we’re seeing from him.”

Elias also provided updates on a trio of prospects all recovering with hamstring strains.

Outfielder Heston Kjerstad hasn’t played a professional game since the Orioles drafted him second overall in 2020. He was diagnosed with myocarditis (heart inflammation) shortly after he signed with Baltimore then suffered a left hamstring strain this spring as he finally appeared to be at full health.

Elias said Kjerstad, 23, will begin playing in extended spring training games “as soon as next week,” with the possibility he plays in Florida Complex League games when those begin next month.

“Our goal is to get him to [Low-A] Delmarva this summer,” Elias said. “I don’t know exactly when that’s gonna happen. But he’s doing well with the hamstring and the other stuff that he’s been through.

Last week, outfielder Yusniel Diaz suffered a recurrence of a right hamstring strain that cost about three weeks earlier this season. When on the field, he’s performed well for Norfolk, posting a .934 OPS. Once ranked the Orioles’ top prospect after coming to Baltimore in the Manny Machado trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Diaz, 25, has missed time with lower body injuries each of the past three minor league seasons.

“I don’t know what to say other than that it stinks,” Elias said. “It’s tough news. Once you have those, sometimes they get more susceptible to recurrence, and he’s a twitchy, explosive guy, and this stuff happens, but it’s really putting a hamper on his ability to get on a roll and make himself relevant for the major league team. I’m not ruling anything out, but this is a big setback timewise, and we’ll just keep working with him and get him back out there, and hopefully, maybe in the second half, he can get up here because his time’s overdue.”

Triple-A second baseman-outfielder Terrin Vavra, 25, is fully recovered from his right hamstring strain and is in a build-up period, Elias said. He’ll go to a lower affiliate for a rehab assignment before rejoining Norfolk.

()

Continue Reading

News

78,000 pounds of infant formula arrives in US

Published

on

78,000 pounds of infant formula arrives in US

By MICHAEL CONROY

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Enough specialty infant formula for more than half a million baby bottles arrived Sunday in Indianapolis.

The formula, weighing 78,000 pounds (35,380 kilograms), was being transported by military plane, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Joe Biden flew from South Korea to Japan.

It is the first of several flights carrying infant formula from Europe expected this weekend to relieve the deepening shortage in the U.S. The flights were authorized by Biden.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Indianapolis to greet the arrival of the first shipment in Indianapolis.

The Biden administration — which has struggled to address a nationwide shortage of formula, particularly hypoallergenic varieties — has dubbed the effort “Operation Fly Formula.” The crisis follows the closure of the nation’s largest domestic manufacturing plant in Michigan in February due to safety issues.

The White House has said 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula was to leave Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the U.S. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula were expected to arrive in the coming days. Altogether, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children with cow’s milk protein allergy, are expected to arrive this week.

Indianapolis was chosen because it is a Nestle distribution hub. The formula will be offloaded into FedEx semitractor-trailers and taken to a Nestle distribution center about a mile away where the company will do a standard quality control check before distributing the supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and doctor’s offices, according to an administration official on site.

Air Force planes are transporting the initial batch of formula because no commercial flights were available this weekend.

The flight was the first of several to provide “some incremental relief in the coming days” as the government works on a more lasting response to the shortage, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Sunday.

Reese told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Sunday’s flight brought 15% of the specialty medical grade formula needed in the U.S., and because of various actions by the government, people should see “more formula in stores starting as early as this week.”

Longer term, he said, the U.S. needs more formula providers “so that no individual company has this much control over supply chains.”

Under “Operation Fly Formula,” the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services are authorized to request Department of Defense support to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, so it can get to store shelves faster, according to the USDA.

Alfamino is primarily available through hospitals and home health care companies that serve patients at home.

U.S. regulators and the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, hope to have its Michigan plant reopened next week, but it will take about two months before product is ready for delivery. The Food and Drug Administration this week eased importation requirements for baby formula to try to ease the supply crunch, which has left store shelves void of some brands and some retailers rationing supply for parents nervous about feeding their children.

Continue Reading

News

WHO chief: The COVID pandemic is ‘most certainly not over’

Published

on

WHO chief: The COVID pandemic is ‘most certainly not over’

BERLIN (AP) — The COVID-19 pandemic is “most certainly not over,” the head of the World Health Organization warned Sunday, despite a decline in reported cases since the peak of the omicron wave. He told governments that “we lower our guard at our peril.”

The U.N. health agency’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told officials gathered in Geneva for opening of the WHO’s annual meeting that “declining testing and sequencing means we are blinding ourselves to the evolution of the virus.” He also noted that almost 1 billion people in lower-income countries still haven’t been vaccinated.

In a weekly report Thursday on the global situation, WHO said the number of new COVID-19 cases appears to have stabilized after weeks of decline since late March, while the overall number of weekly deaths dropped.

While there has been progress, with 60% of the world’s population vaccinated, “it’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere,” Tedros said.

“Reported cases are increasing in almost 70 countries in all regions, and this in a world in which testing rates have plummeted,” he added.

Reported deaths are rising in Africa, the continent with the lowest vaccination coverage, he said, and only 57 countries — almost all of them wealthy — have vaccinated 70% of their people.

While the world’s vaccine supply has improved, there is “insufficient political commitment to roll out vaccines” in some countries, gaps in “operational or financial capacity” in others, he said.

“In all, we see vaccine hesitancy driven by misinformation and disinformation,” Tedros said. “The pandemic will not magically disappear, but we can end it.”

Tedros is expected to be appointed for a second five-year term this week at the World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the WHO’s member countries.

___

Follow all AP stories on the pandemic at

Continue Reading

Trending